Some students believe LSU committees are not active amid struggle to join
‘I have no idea what the students’ union does except for the fact that they take a chunk of my tuition every term’
By MAIYA SUZUKI
The Langara Students’ Union financial documents show that tens of thousands of dollars are allocated to student committees, yet some members believe many committees have been defunct since the pandemic.
Some students say they haven’t been able to join since 2019 nor are they being provided meeting minutes or agendas. Others are questioning why the committees are not advertised.
According to its website, the LSU has 11 committees that students can volunteer for, but it’s unclear who is currently in charge of these committees. Students can also apply for the electoral committee, which has limited space and a more involved application process.
In an email to the Voice, the LSU said the committees are represented by its board members and college students and that “all committees are active in some form.”
The “most current active” committees
The LSU said its “most current active” committees are special events, member relations and international committee. It was unclear if that meant the other committees weren’t fully active.
The LSU website does not list who runs the committees, provide the names of any members, nor explain how to reach the committees. The LSU did not answer the Voice’s request for the names of the committee representatives.
If they wish to volunteer for a committee, students must fill out an online form.
Tavia Waiz, third-year nursing student at Langara, was looking to connect with a community her first term back on-campus after the pandemic. She applied for the queer committee through the volunteer application form on the LSU website in November 2021.
“A month went by and I heard nothing,” Waiz said, though she acknowledged it could be because of the holiday break.
So she went in person to the LSU building but because of renovations no one was there. She then emailed the union again, but still no response, so she went in person a second time.
“They basically said, ‘yeah, no, it’s not running,’” Waiz said, adding she was told the clubs had been shut down because of COVID-19 and renovations.
Finally, on Jan. 8, 2022, she received an email saying the newly elected board members would be in contact with her after they met later that month.
But she was never contacted again.
“I have no idea what the students’ union does except for the fact that they take a chunk of my tuition every term,” Waiz said.
Jashandeep Singh, a former LSU board member in 2019, was part of the special events committee, student issues action committee, and the united people of colour committee at the time. However, his involvement with the LSU committees was cut short when the pandemic hit and the committees stopped meeting.
Singh said he applied to be part of the queer committee but, like Waiz, he was never contacted about his application status for the committee.
“I was finding it hard that no one could apply for it,” said Singh, who graduated from the photography program in 2022.
He said most students are unaware of these committees or “how to work with them.”
In an email to the Voice, the LSU said students wishing to join a committee can fill in the form online.
“Based on their availability, we will contact them to help during the event,” it said.
A student petition
Arman Thakur, a second-year computer science student at Langara, started an online petition on Nov. 9 for an independent inquiry into the LSU’s lack of transparency. His goal is to get 51 signatures to present to the LSU board of directors to pass a special referendum.
The petition questions, among other things, why students are not provided meeting agendas or minutes for standing committees, which are permanent committees that carry on from year to year. Most other student unions provide these publicly and regularly. For example, the Kwantlen Student Association has posted the agenda and minutes for every committee meeting since 2014.
“I think the petition would definitely bring the attention of other students that these committees actually exist,” Thakur said, adding that funds allocated to committees “should be used for the students, and especially when it comes to the women’s empowerment and the united people of colour empowerment.”
In an email to the Voice, the LSU said the claims and allegations in the petition were not accurate.
“The Langara Students’ Union (LSU) conducted the General Election of 2023 in full compliance with our established regulations, ensuring transparency, fairness, and integrity throughout the electoral process,” the email said.
However, students have continued to complain to the Voice that the election’s eligibility process was manipulated, that they were unfairly prevented from appealing the process and that the LSU has ignored their demands for an explanation.
— with files from Emily Best